September 1, 2021 – Mt Hood, Southside

After watching the webcams pretty closely for the previous two weeks, it looked like the Palmer patch was holding on, so Dan, Joe and I made plans to head to Mt Hood on the 1st in search of September turns. We met at the cop shop in Albany, piled into Dan’s Tesla, and after a quick stop in Sandy to charge, arrived in the parking lot around 8:30 am. We shouldered packs and hit the road to Silcox just before 9:00 am, and started up. As usual, the views from Mt Hood didn’t disappoint…

Hood from the Climber’s Lot
The road to Silcox

The hike up was quite warm, and before long we were all in shorts, trying to keep cool. A bit later, we arrived at Silcox and took a quick break to get a snack and refuel. Just around the corner from the hut, we were pleased to see snow in the canyon that looked like it was skinnable, at least for part of the way up…

Dan & Joe at Silcox
Joe skinning up the canyon

 We were able to skin up about two-thirds of the way to the Palmer mid-station, and had to walk over dry ground the remainder of the way to the mid-station. Once at the mid-station, the conditions were looking pretty bleak, but we knew there was some snow out there somewhere….

Hiking up the dry Palmer Canyon
The Palmer from the mid-station

We worked our way up and over to the snow, and found a suitable place to stage for a few minutes, as well as put our beers on ice. The snow above us looked to be in okay shape, so we headed up after having a few sips from our now frosty cold beverages. My beer of choice for our first lap was a tasty Alpine Trail Pale Ale from Plank Town Brewing Company in Springfield, Oregon.

Dan above the Palmer mid-station
Alpine Trail Pale Ale

The hike to the top of the Palmer went quickly, given the relatively short distance, and we had to stop about 50-75 vertical feet below the top of the lift shack. All told, it looked like we would get about 500 feet of turns or so with each run. We sat around for a few minutes, chatting with a couple of folks we met lower down on the mountain, and enjoyed the view.

Matt at the top of the Palmer patch

Soon though, it was time to do what we’d come for, and we strapped into our bindings. I headed down first, then setup to shoot a few shots of Dan and Joe as they came down…

Dan dropping in
September turns on the Palmer patch

The first few hundred feet of turns were pretty bumpy, but we managed to get some okay turns despite the bumps since the snow was starting to soften. We skied down to our gear at the bottom of the patch, finished our beers, and then headed back up for another lap.

Joe enjoying some September turns
Dan slashing some September corn

We skied back down to the bottom, and it was time to pull out our second (and my last) beer for the day to celebrate some fun skiing. Plus, we decided it was worth heading back up for another half lap, so we needed a good refreshment for that:). My second beer was a tasty hazy IPA called Return to Normalcy, from Worthy Brewing, and it definitely hit the spot.

Return to Normalcy Hazy IPA

After downing half of our second beers, we made the short, 250 foot hike back up to the top of what we considered to be the best snow of the day, and headed down from there. This time, Dan grabbed the camera and snapped some photos of me enjoying some September corn on the patch…

September turns on the Palmer patch
Matt getting in on the action

We enjoyed the turns down to our waiting gear on our third and final run on the patch, and agreed it was the best turns of the day so far. After loading our gear into our packs, we headed down to the middle canyon in search of some skiable snow in hopes of not having to walk back down to the mid-station.

The bottom of the continuous snow

Our hunch was that there would be some snow holding in the middle draw below the Palmer, and our hunch paid off as we found some of the smoothest and best snow patches of the day…

Joe heading down
Turns below the Palmer patch

We had to make a few carries, but the snow kept going below the rocks, and we were pretty stoked to continue to make turns down most of the way instead of carrying skis on our backs…

Headed to the next patch
Dan skiing on of the lower patches

We continued to work our way down the draw until eventually the snow ran out, but our decision was definitely a good one, since our elevation was not just a little below the snow in the Palmer canyon.

Synchronized turns by the skiers
Heading down and over to the Canyon

The hike over to the Palmer canyon was quick and easy, and soon we were back to sliding on snow again. The snow in the canyon wasn’t anything to write home about, in fact it was pretty shitty, but it still be walking down with skis on the back…

Joe cruising down the Canyon
Matt navigating the bumps

We worked our way down and were basically able to ski all the way back down to the Silcox. Not too shabby considering the amount of snow on the mountain.

September turns in the Canyon
Dan heading down

Once back at the Silcox, we picked up our approach shoes and decided it was worth sliding on the remaining snow in the Mile canyon. The snow here wasn’t a whole lot better than the Palmer canyon — it was dirtier, but it was less bumpy.

Joe working down the canyon
Headed down to the last patches

After booting across a few more bare sections, we skied the last patch of snow to within a few hundred yards of our “normal” exit spot in the canyon for the summer. All things considered, we were pretty happy with the amount of skiing we were able to get — pretty much continuous skiing, more or less, from within a hundred feet of the top of the Palmer.

Matt & Dan at the end of the snow
Looking back at the last patch

From the end of the snow, it was a short hike back down to the parking lot, and it felt good to unload packs, change out of ski boots, and bust out the food for some apres’ ski activities. I pulled out some fresh salads made the day prior, with all fresh ingredients from the garden, and along with some fresh chips and salsa, we feasted on the season’s offerings, all with a great view of the mountain.

One of the garden salad’s we enjoyed
Apres’ in the parking lot

As we reflected on the day, we agreed that even though there was minimal snow, it was still a great time and exceeded expectations, and you really can’t beat that. That said, I really hope it snows in October, or conditions could get really grim for those of us chasing this turns-all-year dream!